Koprowski, J. L. 1996. Natal philopatry, communal nesting, and kinship in fox squirrels and gray squirrels. Journal of Mammalogy 77(4): 1006-1016.


John L. Koprowski

Tree squirrels (Sciuridae: Sciurini) are considered to be asocial; however, communal nesting is reported for most species. I examined the sociality of uniquely marked fox squirrels (Sciurus niger) and gray squirrels (S. carolinensis) to investigate interspecific patterns of natal philopatry, communal nesting, and kinship. Natal philopatry was female-biased in gray squirrels, resulting in the formation of kin clusters, but no fox squirrels remained in their natal areas. Adult male and female squirrels interacted less than expected, suggesting that the social systems of the sexes are separate. Communal nesting occurred in all seasons, but was most frequent in winter. Unrelated adult males commonly nested together in both species. However, adult female fox squirrels rarely nested in groups, although communal nests were common among female gray squirrels. Amicable behaviors were directed only toward closely related females (r = 0.5) within kin groups of gray squirrels; aggression was directed primarily at unrelated females. The female-female bond was important in the formation of groups in gray squirrels. 


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